Moving to Singapore as a trailing spouse is sometimes difficult, but it can also provide opportunities beyond your dreams. Australian expat Amy Bourke took the opportunity to study, and then start a new business – based on what she thought was missing in the market. The result of her hard work? SkinFitness, a cool beauty salon right on Shenton Way, and an inspiring story behind it.
Amy believes that good skincare and beauty services can and should be affordable and accessible. We chat with the personable lady boss to see how she’s put this thought in to action.
Tell us how you founded SkinFitness.
When we first moved here from Australia three years ago, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had spent the past eight years working for high-end department store David Jones, first as the store manager in Sydney where I ran stores and led teams of around 500 people. I then moved to an executive role in commercial operations, which involved designing new stores and developing new processes to improve client experience – I absolutely loved my job!
We moved to Singapore for my husband’s work. I decided to take some time off to travel and do an MBA, which was something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I never quite knew where this would lead to, but my gut feeling was that it would be something big, and it was during this time that SkinFitness was born.
While travelling and studying I was inspired by businesses offering world-class service and decided I wanted to create one that’s passionate about customer experience. It seems like a no-brainer, but so many businesses miss the mark!
At the same time, I couldn’t find a go-to place for basic beauty services like facials, waxing and spray tanning. The prices shocked me and the hard-selling was unbelievable. I then realised there was a need for a business model like SkinFitness, where clients can enjoy great service and effective treatments without aggressive sale tactics and exorbitant prices.
I spent 18 months researching hundreds of products. A major win for us was when we partnered with Aspect, Australia’s leading cosmeceutical skincare brand that’s used by doctors, plastic surgeons and therapists in over 1,500 locations. Aspect is an amazing company to work with, and I am so proud to be representing them in Singapore. Their products are awesome and our customers love the results.
How is SkinFitness different from other salons?
We focus on customer experience. This includes everything from the online booking process to the in-salon ambience and, of course, our therapists. We believe that if we do a great job, our customers will return. To help with this, we have built a one-question survey kiosk asking them to rate their experience, which is our primary focus as opposed to hitting sales targets. We are also different because of the quality of our products. Apart from our main skincare brand Aspect, we have a beautiful range of organic, natural and vegan products from the brand iKOU, as well as a men’s range from Hunter Lab.
What do you like most about your job?
The best part of my day is seeing how happy people are after their treatment. This inspires me to constantly raise the bar and improve the customer experience.
Another part of my job that I love is building the team culture. We focus on developing an inclusive employee culture where honesty and trust are key values. My team enjoys getting the best results for our clients, as opposed to achieving sales targets. Not only is this a key contributor to our success, it also makes SkinFitness a pleasant place to work.
What were the hardest challenges you faced when setting up SkinFitness?
Taking the leap of faith! Starting a venture and creating your own brand is an incredible experience. It’s exhilarating, empowering and exciting, but at the same time absolutely terrifying! You have to believe in yourself more than ever and be ready for everything that comes along. As much as taking this step was my greatest challenge, I can honestly say it’s the best thing I have ever done.
Finding the right location was another challenge. Personally, I don’t like having a facial in a busy shopping centre, as it doesn’t feel great walking through the mall after an extraction and without any makeup on! We also wanted a salon that had lots of natural light, so anywhere underground was out of the question.
It was a tough order to fill, and after about six months of looking I was almost ready to give up – until one night I was looking through Property Guru and found One Shenton Way. The funny thing is that this space used to be part of a restaurant we used to come to, and where we would talk about our business plan!
What’s the grand plan for SkinFitness?
We are currently developing three new facials, and will be expanding our services to include organic body scrubs and massages. We’re also on the lookout for an ideal space for our second salon. With the vision that skincare and beauty services can and should be both affordable and accessible, I can see SkinFitness working in many different markets across Southeast Asia, where great customer service at affordable prices is in demand.
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